It’s easy to be angry if someone close to you dies from suicide, it’s easy to blame them for being selfish, blame them for not trying hard enough, to be angry at them for ‘taking the easy way out’. It’s also very easy to forget that suicide is often caused by very real mental illnesses, which can be legitimately fatal.
As someone who has had many attempted suicides in my fairly short life, but also someone who has lost people who I loved through suicide I find I can understand both perspectives. At 16, when I lost a very close friend whom I’d met in hospital I was mortified. I was angry, I was bitter. Why hadn’t she tried harder? If I was still here then she could be too? It wasn’t fair. But then I remembered all the times I had tried, and I reminded myself – It’s not a choice.
This is the part which people often find difficult to understand. Yes, I attempted to kill myself, yes, I went through the motions, and it wasn’t anybody forcing me to – however it wasn’t me. The many times I tried, I knew exactly what I was doing, but I also wasn’t myself. I was ill to the point where I fully and truly believed I had absolutely no choice in the matter. I was in an heteronomous state, no longer acting on behalf of myself, but for an illness that had consumed me. Death caused by suicide is often a product of an illness. Not a person’s choice.
But this does not mean that you can give in. My best advice to someone suffering from depression would be to try and hold on to you. Try not to become the illness. Try and separate yourself and it – because it is not you.
But like most illnesses, it can and does get better. But it’s next to impossible to do on your own. You need to talk about it. If you think someone is struggling, offer them support. If you’re struggling, seek out help, seek out someone to offer you compassion and help. It’s OK to talk about suicide, it isn’t a dirty word. It is a very real consequence of a very real illness and we need to start being open about it.
If you are feeling at risk of harming yourself or need someone to talk to please contact the Samaritans for confidential support in the UK. In the US please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline on 1-800-273-8255.